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“I Attribute My Success And Failure To Myself Completely”

81st birth anniversary interview –FEROZ KHAN

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FEROZ KHAN tells JYOTHI VENKATESH

Today Feroz Khan would have celebrated his 81st birthday, if only he were alive today. To pay our homage , we atbollyy.com and Mayapuri reproduce an interview of FEROZ KHAN by JYOTHI VENKATESH which had appeared for the first time 41 years ago. Ferozbhai was born on 25th September, 1939 in Bangalore.  I must say that I miss Feroz Khan badly because God up there does not make debonair actors like him. I remember the first time I went to interview him at The Film Centre in Tardeo in Mumbai, he was busy with the background music for his film Yalgaar and hence asked me to join him at his bungalow the next day and do my interview with him over breakfast

When I reached his home the next morning around 9 am, I was shocked when his wife Sundari told me that he had returned back home only by 5 am and gone to sleep and asked me to have breakfast and wait till he came down from his bed room upstairs for breakfast. Politely declining her offer to me to have my breakfast alone without Feroz for company, I opted to wait.

It was 11 am by the time Feroz sashayed down the staircase from his bedroom upstairs.On seeing me in the drawing room, Feroz was profusely apologetic and after chiding me for not having had breakfast when his wife had offered me, he joined me for breakfast. While I was interviewing him over breakfast, the perfect host that he was, he asked me whether I would care to have chilled beer with him. I thanked him and told him that I would have beer with him the next time I visited him for lunch.

After the interview was over, Feroz asked me for my address in Kandivali and graciously offered to send me home with his driver. I thanked him and said that I had to visit some friends in Juhu and declined his offer. However, I was pleasantly shocked when I reached home at night after a tired day and my wife told me that Feroz Khan had sent his driver to my house in the evening with a huge gigantic flower bouquet, a box of Monginis cake and ahem a bottle of Black Label, with a thank you letter for joining him for breakfast over interview and once again apologizing for having made me wait for two hours in the morning on an empty stomach. I was bowled over for life by the ever charming suave man.

The first time that I went up to his suite at the Oberoi Towers for his interview, Feroz had fallen down in his bathroom and broken his knee. The second time I went, his wife told me he had left the hotel with a distributor friend only ten minutes earlier. The third time proved lucky. We talked for over an hour when I caught him a few minutes before he vacated his suite prior to his departure to Bangalore for the premiere of Qurbani. And here are his views on various aspects of filmmaking. In case you are wondering why I went to Hotel Oberoi Sheraton instead of his bungalow in Juhu, here’s the answer. During the period 1974 to 1986, I was working as Accounts Supervisor at Nariman Point in Mumbai in Hotel Oberoi in the accounts department.

Talking about the rampant star system in Bollywood, the affable and stylish actor said, “The star system is more of a racket specially in our country where stars work in as many as  100 films and even directors work in not less than 12 films. If there is a big gap between two consecutive releases of mine, it is because my artists are working in 100 films at a time and even if they want to give me priority, it is extremely difficult for them to adjust. Today even the dialogue writers have far too many films on hand and even if the artists are ready to listen to the story and the dialogue, the dialogue writer may not have the time. This impedes the progress of a film. So I have decided to change this system for my next film”.

I asked him whether he had an edge behind the camera over acting and Feroz Khan quipped, “Yes. You are absolutely right. I think I have an edge behind the camera over acting. While as an actor, you portray only a character, as a director, you create several characters. The sense of creativity satisfies me more and I certainly feel that direction is my forte, though I love both acting and direction. Like my colleague Manoj Kumar, I prefer to work in my own films.”

Akbar Khan is Feroz Khan’s younger brother, who is an actor- director on his own right in films as well as television. Talking about Akbar fondly, Feroz said, “I saw a few reels of Akbar’s film Haadsa. He was my assistant in Apradh for over nine months. He left me to do what he wanted. After Haadsa, Akbar will be established as a good filmmaker and take it from me, he is going to become a heartthrob as an actor. He will be the next Rishi Kapoor of the industry”.

On being asked why he had a tiff with Amjad Khan, Feroz laughed and said, “I have not had any tiff with Amjad Khan. I do what I like and like what I do irrespective of any opinion, but within the framework of decency and humanity. If I had a tiff with Amjadbhai, do you think that he would have attended my premiere at Apsara theatre and even announced a handsome donation for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund”?

Talking about his image in the media as a brawler, Feroz said, “Unfortunately the name Khan itself spells violence in people’s minds. And the yellow press had magnified a few incidents which happened in my life as a result of which I have been branded for life as a drunken brawler”.

It was Feroz who had discovered Biddu and Nazia Hassan. “I recorded the song Aap Jaisa Koyi Nahi with Nazia and Biddu for my film Qurbani and only then told Kalyanji and Anandji about it. They graciously accepted it since I have been with them right from my maiden venture as a producer. Biddu is a friend of mine from Bangalore. He was a street singer who migrated to London years back to strike gold there as a pop singer. Nazia is just a school girl. She has not accepted even a single film in Bombay though she was approached by several filmmakers because her family does not want her to work in films. Neither do I plan to cast Nazia as my heroine in my next film nor am I having an affair with her.

As a producer, Feroz emphatically asserts that he does not at all rely on any star. “I do not rely on my stars. I attribute my success and failure to myself completely. The credit for my film being a hit or a flop film lies with me. I take only those stars who I feel fit the role. Just to prove my point, I could have easily taken a star villain like Prem Chopra instead of grooming a nobody like Shakti Kapoor. Incidentally, Shakti Kapoor has signed twenty to thirty films today, just because I signed him to act in  my film Qurbani”.

Feroz Khan is of the opinion that today, stunt is synonymous with action. “I have always been quite proud of my image as a macho hero. Socials have receded into the background. Today the only film I am associated with is Do Waqt Ki Roti which is being made by Sanjeev Kumar’s brother. I respect Sanjeev Kumar a lot and feel that it is a challenge to work with him. I hope that I can stand up to him and match his histrionics”.

May Ferozsaab’s soul rest in peace up there in Heaven!